“Fire & Ice Under the Midnight Sun!” 5-star Grand Voyage
Aug 27 – Sept 5, 2022 small group
The Vikings wanted to keep the wonders of this stunning place to themselves, calling it “Iceland” to discourage visitors. You’ll understand why they wanted to keep it a secret as we make our way to the Arctic Circle on a luxury cruise designed to give you access that no land tour could to geological marvels that will blow your mind. Our past groups raved about Ponant and you too deserve a first-class vacation this year!
There is truly no other place on earth that can match the stark beauty of the rugged terrain and pure, clear waters of Iceland. Our past 6 AFS groups to Iceland fell in love with the unimaginable dramatic landscapes of iridescent glaciers, slumbering volcanoes, boiling geysers, thundering waterfalls, vertiginous fjords, and rugged lava fields. They’ve been begging for more and boy, do we have it. While previous trips were in the winter to make it affordable, this time, we’re splurging in the summer with the puffins in high season to take advantage of the almost 23 hours of daylight. We’re going first class with a magnificent voyage that is also a rare opportunity to see Iceland from not just the land, but by sea – circumnavigating the country! Discover hidden coves that are inaccessible from land and all from aboard the most prestigious expedition vessel sailing the Arctic waters – the exquisite yacht-like Le Bellot. You may see other Icelandic land or cruise offers but there is nothing that compares to our exquisite Le Bellot.
Experience 7 breathtaking ports of call starting in the capital, Reykjavik. We’ll set sail on the bay of Grundarfjordur, reach the remote island of Grimsey, explore Akureyri and the almost-desert landscapes of the Westman Archipelago, seeing Arctic wildlife and seabirds along the way. Each day, you’ll be able to opt from a mind-boggling array of excursions that include; Zodiac excursions, whale watching, thermal baths, culinary tours, lava walks, cave hikes, thrilling super jeep safaris and more as we explore the shores and outlying islands.
Considered a top destination for 2022, Iceland can be a pricey destination, but AFS’s favored rate with Ponant. They offered us an exclusive discount price and many enticements for AFS only! Included in our trip are airport transfers, an open bar, all gratuities, all your $390 port charges, unlimited Wi-Fi, gala dinners and some epic shore excursions (valued over $700.) We even added a pre-cruise night package and tour of delightful Reykjavik for 9 glorious days.
Don’t miss the boat. This trip will never come around again. Such an easy 5-hour flight from the east coast, this trip will fill up faster than you can say Snaefellsnes. Get your inner Viking on and come sail with us on the crystal waters around Iceland, Europe’s best kept secret. So pure, so adventurous, this Grand Voyage will melt your heart.
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Aug 27 – Depart USA to Iceland (Detailed Trip Tips coming soon.)
AUG 28 – Welcome to Iceland!
We’ll land at Keflavík Airport and drive across moonscape terrain of ancient lava fields to our Reykjavík hotel. Part of the Reykjanes Peninsula, these fields are a UNESCO Geopark because of their unique volcanic features. This is the only place in the world where tectonic plates are visible on the earth’s surface. You will have the rest of the day free to enjoy Iceland’s pristine capital city. Stroll along the Skólavördustígur and the Laugavegur, two lively streets with charming small shops or even venture out to the thermal pools of the legendary Blue Lagoon Spa.
Overnight Grand Hotel SIGTUN 28 , REYKJAVIK, 105 855-516-1090
29 August – Tour of Reykjavik and cruise
After breakfast, we take in Reykjavik on a morning City Tour, exploring the old town center, Parliament, the National Museum (outside only), and the bustling harbor area. From atop the viewing platform of the iconic the Pearl (Perlan) we can get a 360-degree view of this part of Iceland with lush, green landscapes, the harbor and glaciers all in view. We also stop at Hallgrímskirkja Church whose high steeple is a landmark visible from all over the city and beyond. Have a photo op at the statue of the Icelandic hero and explorer Leif Erikson.
After the city tour, we head to the harbor to board our elegant ship at 6PM.
Overnight aboard Le Bellot
30 August – Grundarfjördur
Sailing through the stunning fjord, we arrive in this secret boreal hideaway midday. Located at the foot of the Kirkjufell on Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the best views of the lava-stone rock standing like a sentinel at the entrance to the bay can only be had from the water. The quant town of Grundarfjörður lies sheltered behind this cone-shaped rock. A stone’s throw from the jetty, crystal clear waters, tundra and beaches give way to the cerulean waters of the magical town of Breiðafjörður. Its quaint houses with emerald-colored lawns are so welcoming.
There are two possibilities for excursions
1 – The Snaefellsnes Peninsula – This almost 5-hour long adventure from Grundarfjordur takes us through several small fishing villages along the famous Snæfellsjökull glacier-capped volcano. After a stop at Djupalonssandur, take a short refreshing walk to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Snæfellsjökull was made popular in 1864 by the French writer Jules Verne in his novel A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, where he located the entrance to the subterranean journey inside the Snæfellsjökull crater. Afterwards, you will pass the cliffs of Londrangar and join the tiny fishing village of Arnarstapi which offers splendid multicolour lava formations and an abundance of bird life. You return to your ship through Budir, famous for its beautiful surroundings of black lava and its long beach of yellow sand. Continue over Frodarheidi Heath to the north coast of the peninsula, back to Grundarfjordur.
2 – Caves, Craters & Coves – An adventurous tour exploring some of the area’s best loved coastal hiking trails, coupled with approximate 45-minute cave exploration, all at the base of the famous Snaefellsjokull glacier! It includes a refreshing walk amongst the craters at Saxholl. The 30-minute hike offers great views and a chance to walk around a volcanic crater rim and peer inside. Next, discover some of the beautiful coves and take a half mile scenic hike from the beautiful, pebbled beaches of Djupalonssandur to the picturesque cove of Dritvik. Take in magnificent views from the cliff tops and look out for the ancient labyrinth built by fishermen. Finally, head to the Vatnshellir cave and take a journey into the underground along a 200-yard lava tube that was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. You’ll descend 115 feet below the surface to see amazing colors and lava formations and explore both the upper and lower chambers. Scientists believe Vatnshellir was created in an eruption 6,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Overnight aboard Le Bellot
31 August 31 – Grímsey
We arrive in Grímsey in early afternoon. This is the northernmost island of Iceland with the Arctic circle running through the heart of the island. You’ll earn a certificate noting your Artic Circle accomplishment by being here! Grimsey’s contrasted contours are surprising. Great photo ops here. From Grímseyjarhreppur, the island’s only town located on the west coast, then heading due south, you can take in the beauty of the hillsides, lushly carpeted with moss and grass. The rest of the coastline is marked by its imposing basalt cliffs inhabited by flocks of sea birds, many of them found only in this area. Overnight aboard Le Bellot
01 September – Akureyri
Making our way up the Eyjafjörður fjord, we reach the elegant city of Akureyri, film location for Game of Thrones! It displays a stunning palette of colors: blue waters in the harbor, bronze mountain ash on the squares and brightly colored houses in the historical center. As you walk along the cobbled streets, you will come across rows of terraces with wooden furniture. A vast stairway cut into the hillside leads up to the emblematic feature of the town, namely the Akureyrarkirkja church. A microclimate in this area has made it possible for there to be a lovely botanical garden where you can find Icelandic flora as well as plants from all over the world.
|Godafoss & Akureyri – Excursion included. This half-day tour gives us a view of what remains of the old town of Akureyri before crossing the fjord and heading on to Godafoss, “Waterfall of the Gods.” Through the wide-open valley Fnjoskadalur, drive into the part of the valley known as Dalsmynni. Formations on the hillsides suggest that a once large pro-glacial lake occupied the valley only to be let down by stages as the ice melted. Next, continue to the Laufas Folk Museum, which originally served as a manor farm and vicarage. The turf farmhouse dates to 1866 and contains the usual household and agricultural implements used by the gentry during that period and earlier. Upon arrival in Akureyri and before heading back to the pier, visit the Botanical Gardens which house examples of every species indigenous to Iceland and an extensive collection of high-latitude and high-altitude plants from around the world. GODAFOSS & AKUREYRI More
1 – Discover Lake Myvatn – This full-day trip leaves from the pier where you head south towards Godafoss, “Waterfall of the Gods.” Legend has it that in 1000, Thorgeir, chieftain of Ljosavatn district and Lawspeaker of the Althing or parliament at that time, threw his statues of the pagan Norse gods into the waterfall after deciding the island should accept the Christian faith. Godafoss literally means “waterfall of the pagan gods”. Continue to Lake Myvatn, a large 14-mile-long lake that is one of Iceland’s natural treasures. With the dormant Hverfell volcano looming over the Eastern shores, it offers a protected nesting area to tens of thousands of birds, representing dozens of species of ducks. The landscape offers some interesting geological features, including numerous pseudo-craters at Skutustadir to explore before continuing to Dimmuborgir, a magnificent lava landscape with strange formations, columns and arches. The striking geothermal field, next to Namafjall Mountain, is another highlight of this tour, full of mudpots, steam vents, sulfur deposits, boiling springs and fumaroles. Lunch will be served in one of the local restaurants of the Myvatn Area. The tour continues along the shores of Lake Myvatn and then heads back to Akureyri, where a short city tour will be made before joining the pier and your ship. DISCOVER LAKE MYVATN More
2 – Thermal Bath & Godafoss – Another full day tour, we travel by coach to Husavik, a town on the north coast of Iceland, 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle. We stop at Godafoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. After a drive through the scenic northern landscape, you will arrive in Husavik, where a dive into the warm water of geothermal sea baths awaits you, a very genuine wellness wonder. Enjoy this rejuvenating experience for body and soul in the natural tranquility of the Icelandic fjords, with the view of the mountain range to the west, Skjálfandi Bay beneath the cliffs and the Arctic Circle itself on the horizon. Following the bathing experience, you will appreciate a relaxing light lunch in the modern yet welcoming dining area. Afterward, we visit the church of Husavik, built in 1907 from Norwegian wood and in the form of a cross. You will visit the inside of the church and view the simple Scandinavian architecture of this Lutheran church before returning to Akureyri.
Overnight aboard Le Bellot
02 September – Isafjördur
The lovely Le Bellot takes us to the heart of the fjords of North-West Iceland, a wild land of lost valleys and steep cliffs. In this very isolated region, we find the Isafjörður fjord, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the country, mainly for its relief, forged by many very ancient basaltic flows. The town of Isafjörður, which nestles at the back of its fjord, between imposing mountains, is a delightful little town that lives exclusively from fishing. The capital of the Western fjords, its old wooden houses bear witness to its past as a major fishing port.
Included excursion: Maritime Culture & Traditions – Begin your 3-hour excursion by driving the narrow coastal road to the tiny town of Bolungarvik, here there will be a chance to visit the church. Your next stop will be at Osvor, a former fisherman’s home that was restored in 1988 and once harbored boats. Osvor is a stunning example of nature’s grandeur and perfectly illustrates just how difficult life was for Icelandic fishermen up until the 20th century. The village of Bolungarvik is nestled in the heart of a spectacular bay surrounded by neighboring mountains and bathed by the Isafjardardjup or “Djup” fjord, the biggest on Iceland’s east coast. You will drive alongside these impenetrably deep waters to return to Isafjördur via the valley of Tungudalur, enjoying a short stop to take in the view of the valley’s landscapes. On your return, pass through the historic old town and its 18th-century buildings before visiting the Maritime Museum. This is one of Iceland’s oldest houses, a monument in itself, next to three other buildings that have also been renovated and date back to 1780. A typically Icelandic tasting will be served at the end of your visit giving you an opportunity to savor local specialties such as Schnapps, dried fish and locally canned fish cooked the Icelandic way.
Other options –
Icelandic Encounters – On this 2-hour delight, your guide will meet you at the pier dressed like a fish worker from the 19th century. You’ll have an easy walk through the historic center of the charming town of Isafjördur where you will discover the well-preserved city center. Along the way, you will be able to meet the locals in an intimate setting as you are invited into their homes to enjoy a moment with them and taste some local homemade specialties, with a variety of traditional and modern foods. From one house to another, enjoy these Icelandic encounters through the history and culture of the Westfjords. A walk full of culinary surprises! At the end of the tour, you will walk back to the pier. Limited to 10 people.
Guided Walk On Vigur Island – This 3-hour walk give you a great introduction to the lovely island of Vigur. Just 1.2 miles long and a quarter-mile wide, it is a green oasis in the blue waters of the fjord Isafjardardjup. The island is a nesting place for countless birds. It has been the home of the same family since 1884, and today three generations still live there under the same roof. They are farmers and live off the treasures of the island. After a 30-minute boat tour to Vigur, take a leisurely walk around the island and get a perfect opportunity to see an abundance of birds in their natural environment. Eiderducks nest here in great numbers. The farmer protects the nests and is rewarded with the down from the nests, as the ducks pluck their own chests for down, to shelter their eggs. You will also be seeing Puffins, Arctic Terns, Black Guillemots and various other birds in large numbers. Read more online.
Overnight aboard Le Bellot
03 September – Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar
We arrive in Heimaey around midday, land of the puffins! This land seated off the southern coast of Iceland is the largest of the Vestmann islands and is the only inhabited island in the archipelago. The steep Edfell volcanoes and the green prairies of Herjólfsdalur offer rich contrast of nature. On the Stórhöfði road, look out over grey sand beaches and cliffs carved out by the Arctic Ocean. From here, you can also see the bronze landscapes of the mountaintops. You could visit Eldheimar, an ultra-modern and interactive museum that traces the volcanic eruption has experienced by Heimaey in 1973.
Shore Excursion Included- Circumnavigation of Heimaey – We begin our 2-hour tour from the harbor that for a long time has been a shelter for the Icelandic fishing fleet. The fleet was almost lost in the volcanic eruption on the island in 1973. We’ll walk around the harbor before embarking aboard a boat to discover the island from the sea. Sail past the cliffs surrounding the harbor to start an interesting and informative journey passing bird colonies with millions of inhabitants and exploring caves that can only be visited by boat.
The birdlife you get a chance to see on this tour is magnificent, as the Westman Islands have one of the largest varieties of sea bird species in Iceland. These include puffin colonies of an estimated 6 to 8 million puffins. Nowhere else in the world can such a large number of puffins be found in such close proximity to man. In addition, the islands also house one of the world’s largest gannet and guillemot colonies. Numerous other species of nesting sea birds can also be seen. In addition to the birdlife, whales are also often sighted, including orcas, dolphins and porpoises. After viewing the island and bird cliffs from every angle, the boat tour (approximately 1 ½ hour) ends by sailing into Klettshellir (Cliff Cave) where a musical instrument is played through the sound system on board to demonstrate how the acoustics in the cave provides a sensational experience. From there, return to the harbor.
04 September – Full Day Touring Reykjavik
We return to Reykjavík in the morning, but overnight onboard. You can choose to enjoy this charming city or take advantage of the one excursion being offered.
Shore excursion Included – Volcanic Landscape & Viking History: Leave from the pier for this half-day trip to the enchanting Kleifarvatn Lake, one of the deepest lakes in Iceland, where a brief stop will be made to take some pictures. Next, you will drive on across the impressive volcanic plateau of Reykjanes. Your tour continues to Krysuvik, a colorful hot-springs area, which contrasts sharply to the sand and the lava fields of the area. In Krysuvik, we can really witness the powerful jets of steam escaping from deep below the earth’s crust and multicolored pools of boiling mud of the solfataras. The landscape contrast continues as we ride down to the sea towards a green bay and then up towards the mountains through lava and lush green meadows. You will make a quick stop at the bridge between continents, where you will get the chance to cross from the Eurasian tectonic plate over to the North American tectonic plate. Our last stop is the town Njardvik, where we find the newly built Viking Museum in which stands “Icelander” (Islendingur), a fully seaworthy replica of an average-sized Viking vessel, this in those times would have carried a crew of 70. Read more online.
05 September – We disembark our luxury ship at 7:30AM. Airport transfers are provided for your flight home.
Land & Cruise Price from $5395 based on 22 participants. Before this exquisite 2022 voyage sold out months ago, we were able to secured 11 cabins discounted for you into 2 categories all with balconies.
Choose your category
Deluxe Stateroom $5395
We could only get 3 cabins for 6 people. Private balcony, Individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower, Minibar, Flat screen, Satellite TV, Desk with stationery, Ipod(TM) players, Video on demand, Safe, Hairdryer, Bath robes, Satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, Internet access wifi.
Prestige Deluxe Staterooms $5795
Private balcony, Individually-controlled air-conditioning, King-size bed or twin beds, Shower, Minibar, Flat screen, Satellite TV, Desk with stationery, Ipod(TM) players, Video on demand, Safe, Hairdryer, Bath robes, Satellite direct line telephone, 110/220 volts outlet, French bath products, 24hr room service, Internet access wifi, 1 stateroom for people with reduced mobility.
- Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.
- Single rooms limited with $ supplement. Cost varies. Email us for availability. AFS will find you a roommate.
- The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it. A minimum number of 12 is needed.
- Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy. Travel insurance is important nowadays. It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
- Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details.
AFS Trip Tips
Updates will be posted here. If you want a paper copy, copy and paste this into a document and print.
Covid travel rules seem to mutate faster than the virus itself. To keep all groups up to date with the lasted information, we’ve created a page that’s updated as needed. Set a reminder for yourself to check the Covid page 7 days before departure.